Pete McCracken, Porterville council member, dies

The Fresno BeeJune 23, 2014 

Pete McCracken, former Porterville council member

SPECIAL TO THE BEE

Porterville City Council Member Pete McCracken -- who loved dancing and fine food -- died Saturday at Sierra View District Hospital in Porterville. He was 72.

Mr. McCracken suffered a heart attack late last month, and was also told he had cancer, Mayor Cam Hamilton said.

He remained hospitalized on June 3, his birthday, and also the day of the June primary election. He was re-elected to a third term.

As recently as last week, there was hope that Mr. McCracken would recover. He'd been discharged from the hospital and participated in a City Council meeting by telephone.

Council members said they admired their colleague's careful approach to community issues.

"He made decisions based on logic, not emotion," Hamilton said. "He was able to digest things and come up with what he thought was best for the community."

Mr. McCracken moved to Porterville in 1976, served on the planning commission in the 1980s, including as chairman, and was elected to the City Council in 2006.

He served as mayor in 2009-10.

"He kept us focused on policy," Gurrola said. "He had honor and integrity when he worked for the community and he will be sorely missed. He was not only a colleague but a friend."

Mr. McCracken served as the city's representative to the Consolidated Waste Management Authority board for Tulare County, and as chairman of the Council of Cities.

His third term would have begun next month.

The City Council can either fill the vacancy by appointment, allow the mayor to appoint someone or authorize a special election that could coincide with the November election.

Mr. McCracken was a retired agricultural consultant whose profession took him overseas.

In the 1970s and 1980s, he consulted for the World Bank in Portugal, Jordan, Egypt, Thailand and Yemen, specializing in agricultural irrigation and drainage, and was past president of the American Society of Agricultural Consultants.

For about three years, he managed a 24,710-acre, multicrop farm in Yemen.

He spoke Ararbic, Hamilton said.

But Mr. McCracken's pastime and passion was the dance floor.

"He loved dancing," Gurrola said. "You would see him dancing with his wife Wanda at senior citizen centers."

For 10 years, he and his wife owned and operated a Western dance studio in Porterville.

Mr. McCracken was also a chef.

For about two years starting in 2007, he and his wife owned and operated Le Bistro, a restaurant in Porterville that served French and American food. He was a member of the American Personal and Professional Chefs Association.

Mr. McCracken was a graduate of California State Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo, in agricultural engineering. He served in the Army in 1965-67, and belonged to American Legion Post 20.

Pete V. McCracken

Born: June 3, 1942

Died: June 20, 2014

Occupation: Agricultural consultant, dance studio owner, chef, Porterville City Council member

Survivors: Wife Wanda McCracken, son Matthew, three step-children

Services: Being arranged by Myers Funeral Service & Crematory

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6104, lgriswold@fresnobee.com or @fb_LewGriswold on Twitter.

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